Saturday 15 June 2024

'When my ex messages me after 20 years' by Alexandra O

Talk about mountains, how we grew up without them but wouldn’t leave them now, how our hiking boots’ plastic-tipped laces scar goldenrod blossoms, and how when we summit, we feel indomitable or invisible, or maybe both, brave or not brave enough, and although yours are Appalachians and mine are Rockies, when we climb we’re a little more alive; talk about how you wanted to read Finnegan’s Wake, and how I wanted to write it; talk about landslides skulking through Virginia and forest fires walloping Tahoe because humanity’s consumerism is swallowing the earth, and whether humanity can unswallow it; talk about the morality of genetic engineering, and the irrelevance of whether we can sequence DNA into vectors, because the real question is whether we should; talk about your child, how Lindsey’s going to nail a double axel in the national junior ladies free skate, and mine, how Jacob nods to a grunge bassline like it’s his heartbeat while he draws bloodshot eyes on his sketchpad; go ahead, talk about all that;

but don’t talk about whether we like each other or despise each other; don’t talk about how we can’t unlove each other, or who we were at eighteen; don’t talk about the night we called in sick from our summer jobs selling fro-yo and borrowed a 2001 Nissan from your best friend’s vacationing parents — our shoulders backlit by Orion’s belt — as we crossed invisible boundaries, like time zones and state lines, and physical boundaries, like that rest area on I-90 where the bluegrass kissed the wheatgrass, and we drove until we ran out of fuel in the Badlands at sunrise.

Leave those words in the spaces, in the musical notes you don’t play, like Miles Davis said, lingering somewhere in the fermatas of a 6/8 blues song in A minor.



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